Pete Thomas sent out an e-mail last Friday with the subject header "Saying goodbye is never easy to do." The e-mail--short, sweet, self-deprecating--announced the breakup of Thomas' band of seven years, Slow Roosevelt. I received the e-mail that afternoon, forwarded by a fan, whose one-word commentary seemed to say it all: "WOW."
For years, Slow Roosevelt has been known as the Dallas band on the brink. Their last album, Weightless, was released in Europe by Sony and statewide by Reality Entertainment. They opened for Kid Rock at the Smirnoff Music Centre. They ran tour buses into the ground. They won armloads of Dallas Observer Music Awards--mostly for "Best Metal," even though they're not exactly metal. (They're at least "metal-ish.") But while bands like Drowning Pool catapulted to platinum fame, Slow Roosevelt sprinted in place, always threatening to rocket straight outta here, never quite doing so.
Over the weekend, the band's Web site forum racked up more than 1,000 postings. Wrote one disappointed fan: "This is just wrong. WRONG I SAY!" But most fans sounded more like dejected suitors, sad and shocked, wanting to know just one thing: "Why?"
"The overall demands had gotten to be too much for the band," says Thomas, the group's singer. "We were stuck in that place where the demands on the band were really high, but the band's ability to sustain you, to support you independently wasn't enough. It takes its toll--financially, emotionally." The breakup wasn't his decision; he hoped to keep the band together long enough to record another CD. "Unfortunately, it didn't happen that way." Since Friday, Thomas has received about 50 e-mails a day, and he hasn't even looked at the forum posts yet. Of the band's decision, he says, "It basically pretty much killed me. It's not something I wanted, but it's something I understand."
On March 19, Slow Roosevelt plays its final show at the Curtain Club (although the band may play one more gig in Fort Worth), and it has already canceled several upcoming dates. "I'd rather cut it off at the jugular than have a long, slow death," says Thomas, who admitted he's dreading the Friday show. "It's like you lose your girlfriend, but you still have to go out on one more date with her."
A doctoral student in psychology, Thomas is not your typical rawk guy. He's honest about his feelings; he wears rimmed glasses and cardigans. So don't mistake his open disappointment for bitterness. "There are so many bands at our level across the country," he says. "I don't know if anything could have been done differently. And we're not stopping because it wasn't enough. I'm pretty damn satisfied with where we ended up."
There's no animosity in the ranks, which includes drummer Aaron Lyons, guitarist Scott Minyard and bassist Zack Busby. "Who knows? Some of us may play together again," Thomas says. He, for one, has no plans to quit. "I've never had a normal life, and I probably never will. I'm kind of used to it."
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The Dallas Observer Music Awards nominations are out, and before you thank--or spit on--me, let's get one thing straight: I didn't pick 'em. The nominations are made by music biz insiders--people who work at record labels and clubs and music stations. Already I've heard complaints that the awards are the same as last year's, to which I have two responses: 1) boo and 2) hoo. All publicly voted awards--be it DOMA or the "Best of" issues or the stupid People's Choice Awards--are subject to a certain inertia. This year, a handful of acts managed to break through: the Riverboat Gamblers, Common Folk, the Burden Brothers, Radiant*. And several deserving acts were renominated. Do I sound defensive? Well, I'm grumpy, and my back hurts. Here's the point: Vote. Go to www.dallasobserver.com or send in the ballot in this issue. The awards will be announced Tuesday, April 13.
For those not maxing out their credit cards at SXSW this week, the local scene offers plenty. In addition to the acts previewed in the following pages, we have SXSW buzz bands The Killers and stellastarr* at Trees on Saturday; Austinite Abra Moore at Poor David's Pub on Tuesday; the Idol Records showcase at Sons of Hermann Hall on Friday, featuring The Fags, [DARYL], Molly and Novada; and the Gypsy Tea Room hosting something called The Body Art Ball on Saturday. Don't know what that is, but it sounds kinky.
As if that weren't enough, Missy Elliott is holding a talent search in Dallas for her upcoming UPN hip-hop reality series. Contestants must showcase their singing, rapping and dancing skills and must be over 18. Tryouts are Friday at Westin Park Central, 12720 Merit Drive.